Friday, November 05, 2004

Rove Was Right

One of the worst aspects of Bush's win on Tuesday is the reality that Rove was right. Karl Rove, Bush's senior campaign advisor (aka Bush's Brain) apparently always felt that if the "evangelicals" had voted in 2000, the election wouldn't have even been close. So he designed Bush's presidency to appeal to those people to ensure a second term. Witness the limitations on federal funding for stem cell research, the passage of the partial birth abortion ban, the removal of federal funds for international family planning organizations and the endorsement of a federal amendment to the Constitution banning gay marriage. This radical right wing social agenda that has so incensed us on the left is exactly what got him elected, for this time the evangelicals did turn out and they voted for Bush. And according to Nicholas Kristoff of the New York Times, they constitute one-third of Americans, which would explain the statistic that 36% of all Bush voters counted "moral values" as the number one issue they voted on. Greater than terrorism, greater than Iraq, greater than the economy. This utter contempt for and assault on our values is what has made us so passionate and feel like this was more than a mere election. Thomas Friedman of The New York Times agrees.

What troubled me yesterday was my feeling that this election was tipped because of an outpouring of support for George Bush by people who don't just favor different policies than I do - they favor a whole different kind of America. We don't just disagree on what America should be doing; we disagree on what America is.

Is it a country that does not intrude into people's sexual preferences and the marriage unions they want to make? Is it a country that allows a woman to have control over her body? Is it a country where the line between church and state bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers should be inviolate? Is it a country where religion doesn't trump science? And, most important, is it a country whose president mobilizes its deep moral energies to unite us - instead of dividing us from one another and from the world?

At one level this election was about nothing. None of the real problems facing the nation were really discussed. But at another level, without warning, it actually became about everything. Partly that happened because so many Supreme Court seats are at stake, and partly because Mr. Bush's base is pushing so hard to legislate social issues and extend the boundaries of religion that it felt as if we were rewriting the Constitution, not electing a president.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the exits polls are proving Todd wrong on this one. As reported in the New York Times (please note that the Pew Center is showing similar results as well), the protestant vote (including the "evangelicals" that Todd seems to have a problem with) was pretty much unchanged as a % from the 2000 election.

There were two big election-winners for Bush. First, Hispancs, where support for Bush increased from 31% to 43% from 2000. This represents a 40% jump in a group representing 6% of the voting public, translating into an overall 2.4 point gain for Bush (ceteris paribus, this alone would take Bush's 48% in 2000 up to 50.4 in 2004).

Second, Catholics, where support for Bush increased from 47% to 52% from 2000. This represents a 10% jump in a group representing 27% of the voting public, translating into an overall 2.7 point gain for Bush (ceteris paribus, this alone would take Bush's 48% in 2000 up to 50.7 in 2004).

If the 51-48 margin for 2000 is correct (up from 48 all in 2000, a gain of 3 points for Bush) this means that increase amongst hispanics can be seen as accounting for 80% of Bush's gain (again, ceteris paribus), and increase amongst Catholics for an even more impressive 90% of Bush's gain (please note, I say ceteris paribus because there is certain to be a significant amount of crossover between the Hispanic and Catholic numbers, for obvious reasons, as well as other offsets and gains in different demographic groups - but these are the two biggies for this election).

The conclusion here is that, while Todd shows the propensity of his party and ideology to demonize the evangelical community, the facts just don't back up his assertions. He's making an emotional argument (one that he's being led into by commentary by Liberal op-ed writers) not a statistical one.

Now, if Todd wants to drink the Kool-Aid and go off with the rest of his party and ideology, behaving like modern-day Don Quixotes charging the "evangelical" windmill that's fine with me and other Republicans ... because it means that he, and they, are in denial about the fundamental structural and insitutional problems in their political coalition. Changing those sorts of problems are really difficult (but completely do-able, if the way the GOP transformed itself into the majority party in the 1990s is any indication), and in such situations it's inevitably easier just to take the path of least resistance and blame someone else for your own problems.

12:06 AM  
Blogger TWB said...

It is hardly only the New York Times Op Ed page that has noted the significance of the evangelical vote this election. In fact, I'd say it's become conventional wisdom, but perhaps you'd claim that it has become so among only the "liberal" media. (Of course the NY Times Op Ed page is known for being liberal, but Thomas Friedman is hardly a partisan among the columnists.) In fact, I've heard it reported that because the evangelicals "delivered" this election for George W. Bush, they expect "payback" in a second term. You don't seem to think this is accurate, and trust me, I certainly hope it's not. I wouldn't say I demonize evangelicals any more than I am demonized by the right as a New York Times reading wine sipping liberal from Los Angeles. It's a matter of differing values and to the extent that my values differ from theirs, yes I have a problem with them. But I don't begrudge them their religion or their beliefs if they don't impact me. Live & let live. The problem that we see is the imposition of their values on our government, an institution that we believe should be secular. This president has wielded his power increasingly to blur this separation between church and state, seemingly to placate this religious base. Would you deny this? If so, talk to me in a few weeks when Ralph Reed is appointed Chairman of the RNC, Bush renews his call for an Amendment to the Constitution to ban gay marriage and we get a look at Bush's nominees to the Supreme Court. But if he's serious about uniting the country, he won't take the smallest margin of victory of any incumbent since Wilson as a mandate and he will reach out to the moderates in his party and to those across the aisle. I'm waiting to see but forgive me if I'm not holding my breath.

Thanks for the stats and the link. I'll check them out more fully. Am I guilty of making an emotional argument? Perhaps. Does it mean it's wrong? No.

11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What you have just done, Todd, is provide exibit "A" (or should it be "L", for Liberal?) of what amounts to a chicken/egg situation: You show just as much disdain for Conservative values as you claim Conservatives show for yours.

In reality, Liberals and Conservatives are really just opposing sides of the same coin: both are righteously assured of, and entrenched in, what they percieve to be the rightness of their values and world-view. Both seek a government and governmental policies that will promote and reinforce their own values and moral beliefs to the exclusion of others. Both see themselves as dismissed, oppressed and persecuted by the other side.

When it comes right down to it, Todd, your treasured "secularism" is just as much a morality-driven valueset as that held by the Christian right. A morality-driven valueset that you, yes you, are seeking to impose on others. But because of the ideological blinders you wear, you are incapable of seeing that it as such.

Not too long ago you asked for an explanation of what drives Conservative "anger". I would submit to you that if you really want to know how and why conservatives feel this way, all you have to do is take a good look in a mirror at your own feelings of anger and persecution.

8:33 AM  
Blogger TWB said...

Our anger on the left is very specific, a reaction to the policies and actions of one man and his administration over the course of a 4-year period. The anger on the right is directed at a more general group, "liberals" over the course of many many years. Conservatives blame liberals for anything from what they perceive to be the moral decline of America to the so-called gutting of the military to welfare mothers. And maybe it stems from exactly what you said, that they feel that their values have been under assault for years and if they feel anything like what I've felt over these last 4 years, and especially the last week, then yes, it is a very similar anger. But I'm the one trying to understand the anger on the right. All I see the right doing is dismissing and demonizing that of the left.

Well, if freedom to worship, freedom to speak, freedom to live, freedom to screw, etc. are values I'm trying to impose on conservatives, well then, yes, guilty as charged. Seems to me the Constitution on which this country was founded should be and has been the basis of our laws and protecting our rights. The Constitution belongs to all Americans. Some people would like to legislate as though the Bible is the founding document of our nation. The Bible does not belong to all Americans, but just to some, and the idea that it should be the basis of our laws is the height of arrogance.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think what's missing out there amongst the Left is a little perspective.

Here's Something that may help, both as a means of getting the hand-wringers to tone down their rhetoric, and as an instruction of what assumptions NOT to make if people actually want to win back the White House in 2008. Yes, the article zeros in on MoDo, but only as the most egregious example of the post-election trend. The writer's target is much, MUCH broader.

7:29 AM  

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